i found that writing the music for this song (finding the rhythm and melody) was fairly difficult. i wasn't familiar with the original hymn, and didn't want to listen to it before i tried my hand at it, but the rhythm of the words, as well as the rhyme scheme, were hard to wrap my head around. it took picking up an equally unfamiliar instrument (in this case a lap dulcimer) before i could start to make sense of it. after that, the structure started to fall into place.
there's an almost magical, pagan quality to the lyrics - the trees ministering to jesus in the garden, the leaves being kind to him and the thorns making sure not to scratch him. it's also very ominous. jesus comes into the garden, heavy with "love and shame," the trees take care of him, and when he gets to the point of being "content with death and shame," he is drawn out to be tortured and murdered. it feels gritty and spooky and human, while also suggesting a fairly non-christian attitude towards christ and nature.
from Into the Woods My Master Went,
released April 7, 2017
into the woods my master went, by the whiskey priest
original hymn by sidney lanier, music and additional lyrics by seth woods
played, recorded, and mixed by seth woods